Sociology and Social Policy

Study sociology and social policy and graduate with a university degree

This course achieved high student satisfaction in the most recent National Student Survey

2nd in Scotland in The Complete University Guide, 2013.

Sociology concentrates on analysing and understanding the way in which society works; Social Policy is concerned with the analysis of the purposes, processes and outcomes of social welfare.

Stirling’s international and comparative approach means that you will encounter topics that analyse society and welfare issues in a range of countries. Stirling offers particular expertise on Scotland, the UK, the European Union, Western and Central Europe, Australasia, North America and Latin America. Sociology and Social Policy lend themselves particularly well to study by students returning to education whilst still at work.

Entrance requirements

Four-year Honours degree

SQA Higher:
BBBB - one sitting.
ABBB - two sittings.

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
32 points.

Three-year degree

SQA Adv Higher:
ABB - one sitting.

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
35 points.

Essential subjects:
To include Sociology.

Other qualifications

Year one entry
Scottish HNC/D - Bs in graded units
English, Welsh and NI HNC/D - Merits and Distinctions.
Advanced entry
Year 2 and year 3 entry may be possible with an HNC/D in Social Science. Please consult our Advanced Entry pages for more information.

Access courses:
Access courses and other UK/EU and international qualifications are also welcomed.

Additional information

General entrance requirements apply.
Mathematics Standard Grade (3), Intermediate 2, GCSE (C) or equivalent required.
Students with no Mathematics may be considered although alternative entry conditions may be applied.

If examinations are taken over two sittings, or there are repeats or upgrades, the entrance requirements may be higher.

INTO University of Stirling offers an International Foundation programme for those students who do not meet the required criteria. This course offers a route to study at University of Stirling through an excellent teaching and learning experience located in the high-quality study facilities on campus. Successful completion of the International Foundation in Media, Humanities and Social Sciences to the required standard provides guaranteed progression to this degree.

English language skills

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Modes of study

Full-time (three modules per semester).
Part-time (one or two modules per semester).
January entry also available - see semester dates

Course contact

William Munro University of Stirling
+ 44 (0) 1786 467982

Find out more

Degree course

Students take Sociology plus two other subjects in Year 1.

Semesters 1 - 3

Students take core modules in:

  • Social Differentiation: explores gender, age, ethnicity, class and disability in relation to the ways in which individuals and groups are valued and treated in different societies
  • Social Problems: contemporary social issues and policy responses
  • Understanding Social Policy: historical and theoretical perspectives on welfare; comparative social policy analysis

Semesters 4 - 8

You must take core advanced modules in:

  • Development of Social Theory
  • The Research Process: Introduction to methods of social research and analysis, including practical and project work

Optional modules currently include:

  • Ageing, Society and Social Policy
  • Contemporary Social Issues in Practice
  • Co-operation and Society
  • Disability and Society
  • Drugs, Crime and Society
  • Gender, Work and Welfare
  • Health and Society
  • Housing Policy
  • Information Technology in Society
  • Poverty, Income and Wealth
  • Scottish Society
  • Social Stratification
  • Sociology of the Body
  • Sociology of Childhood
  • Sociology of Development
  • Sociology of Youth
  • Urban Society
  • Work, Class and Society

Final-year Honours students are also required to undertake a dissertation and Honours seminar.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching for each course in Sociology and/or Social Policy usually consists of two lectures plus one workshop per week. Assessment in each course is normally based on a combination of coursework and examinations for example, one essay (30 percent) and an examination (70 percent). The final-year dissertation counts for two modules and provides an opportunity to put research methods studied into practice while focusing on an area of particular interest to the student.

Reading list

Marsh, I. et al. (2009) Sociology: Making Sense of Society, Harlow: Pearson, 4th edition
McIntosh, I and Punch, S, 2005, Get Set for Sociology, Edinburgh University Press.
McIntosh, I, 1997, Classical Sociological Theory: A Reader, Edinburgh University Press
Ridge, T and Wright, S (eds), 2008, Understanding Inequality, Poverty and Wealth: Policies and Prospects, The Policy Press, Bristol

Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.

Teaching for each course in Sociology and/or Social Policy usually consists of two lectures plus one workshop per week. Assessment in each course is normally based on a combination of coursework and examinations for example, one essay (30 percent) and an examination (70 percent). The final-year dissertation counts for two modules and provides an opportunity to put research methods studied into practice while focusing on an area of particular interest to the student.

Combined degrees

CourseUCAS Code
Sociology (three-year degree) L300
Social Policy (three-year degree) L400
Sociology and Social Policy L431


Combined Honours Degrees

Social Policy can be studied with:
CourseUCAS Code
Politics LL24

Sociology can be studied with:
CourseUCAS Code
Criminology LM39
Film & Media LP33
History LV31
Politics LL23
Psychology CL83
Religion LV36
Spanish LR34
Sports Studies CL63

(For a Combined Honours degree the higher entrance requirements of the subjects usually apply.)

Related degrees

A very high level of satisfaction in Sociology teaching at Stirling (94 percent) was indicated by the 2011 National Student Survey.

There is a very strong practical/applied focus at Stirling. There are strong links between research (notably through research centres such as the Dementia Centre, and the Scottish Centre for Crime Justice Research, the Scottish Addiction Studies research group within the University) and teaching.  Lecturers involved in applied work on, for example, police practice, dementia, children affected by parental substance use, substance use, development or economic cooperation draw on this research in their teaching.  

Internally, Sociology and Social Policy lecturers have received University awards for their teaching from the Students’ Union while many other lecturers in the School were nominated for these awards.

The Stirling degree structure is very flexible in the first two years allowing students to experiment with new subjects.

Students receive tuition in both qualitative and quantitative research methods. This learning is applied in Year 4 dissertation module.

Year 1 modules bridge the gap between school and university study through coursework assessments which provide students with a trial run before attempting coursework essays.

A mentoring system is also in place for Year 3 students entering Honours.

Study abroad

You can spend a semester (usually Semester 6) at another university in Europe, USA, Canada or Australia.


Teaching provision in Sociology has been assessed by the Scottish Funding Council and rated as ‘excellent’.

Top 3 in Scotland for Social Policy The Times Good University Guide, 2010, and The Independent University Guide, 2010.

2nd in Scotland for Social Policy and Administration (in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise).


Our modules are taught by acknowledged experts in their various academic fields and teaching is closely informed by the latest developments in social research. This ensures that our teaching engages with real-world issues in a critical, informed and engaging manner.

Our students

I recently graduated with an Honours degree in Sociology and Social Policy.  I’m the first person in my family to go to university and when I arrived I was not particularly confident in my work, but during my four years at Stirling I really thrived academically. I can credit this to the School of Applied Social Science, which is incredibly supportive of its students and delivers high quality teaching and research.  My original degree subject was not Sociology, but due to the flexibility of the degree structure here, I was able to change my course when I tried a module in the first semester and realised how much I enjoyed it. The School has a diverse selection of modules to choose from, so I always found my course stimulating.  In fact, I found my experience so rewarding that I returned last year to undertake a PhD course with the school.

Claire Thain BA (Hons) Sociology and Social Policy, graduated 2009;  PhD Sociology and Social Policy, due to graduate in 2014.


94% of our students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education, 2012/13).

Career opportunities

Stirling Sociology and Social Policy graduates have a higher-than-average (in the UK) employment rate in degree relevant careers. Our graduates work in the private, public and voluntary sectors. There are some careers where a sociology degree is a requirement, for example working as a sociological researcher or a lecturer or teacher of sociology. However there are many more opportunities where the knowledge and understanding students acquire in studying sociology is highly valued, for example work in local government, for the police or prison service, social work, work in the voluntary sector, or in human resources.

Fees 2016/7

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 11,555.00
Scottish and EU students TBC
Students from the rest of the UK £6,750 per year for a maximum of 4 years


Fees 2015/6

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 11,275.00
Scottish and EU students £ 1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £6,750 per year for a maximum of 4 years


Please note: Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government.

Please note: Students from the rest of the UK can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

Sociology and Social Policy
  • Degree award BA (Hons)
  • UCAS Code L431
  • Type Campus based, Full-time
UCAS Application Make an Enquiry Course Directory UG Prospectus